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Russell County, Kansas

Russell County, Kansas, had a two-year argument of the county seat, which eventually led to a case with the Kansas Supreme Court, which was finally decided in 1874. The county is the birthplace of Kansan and U.S. Senator Bob Dole.

Russell County, Kansas, organized in 1872, is named after Captain Avra P. Russell, who fought and died in the Civil War. The county did not experience settlement before 1869. Today, a good portion of the population has German heritage, and they work to keep that heritage strong.

The county was prime hunting ground for Plains Indians. The arrival of white settlers and railroad construction caused a conflict with their traditions.

The county organized in 1872 and debates continued for two years to determine the county seat. The debates escalated and were sent to the Kansas Supreme Court for a final decision. In 1874 Russell was named the permanent county seat over the other contender, Bunker Hill, which had previously served that role. Some individuals promoted the creation of a new county to give Russell a voting advantage. 

 The introduction of Turkey Red Wheat into the county in 1880 greatly changed the agricultural picture for the area. The discovery of oil in 1923, was very economically beneficial to the county.

Russell County properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places include the Mann Residence, which is a Lustron house. Lustron houses were an answer to a post-World War II housing crisis. The Garden of Eden was the creation of Samuel Dinsmoor. Dinsmoor built a house, mausoleum, and several concrete sculptures depicting Biblical and contemporary topics. He moved to the property in 1905, and stopped the building of his creations due to health in 1929. He died in 1932 and is buried on the property. Seven sites in the Kansas Rock Art nomination containing 30 sites, 29 of which are petroglyphs, are in Russell County. They are examples of Native American Art.

United States Senator, Robert Dole was born and raised in Russell. He has served as a Congressman, as the majority and minority leader in the U.S. Senate, and ran for U.S. President.

Quick Facts

Date Established: February 26, 1867
Date Organized: July 18, 1872
County Seat: Russell
Kansas Region: North Central
Physiographic Region: Smoky Hills
Scenic Byway: Post Rock
State Park:  Wilson State Park
Courthouse: 1903


1867 - Russell County is established.
1872 - Russell County is organized.
1872 - 1874- County seat debate goes to Kansas Supreme Court and Russell is named county seat in 1874
1880 - Turkey Red Wheat is introduced into the county
1923 - Oil is discovered in the county. 

More on Russell County


Entry: Russell County, Kansas

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: February 2010

Date Modified: August 2023

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.